Sensory Overload: Katherine should never scale back the aggression

By Columbus Alive
From the August 1, 2013 edition

I made my biannual trip to a house show last Sunday to see the exciting Northampton, Massachusetts band Potty Mouth at the North Campus homestead VVK, which was as rad as expected — rad enough to remind me I should be picking up those monthly CSBYS calendars some of the more industrious DIY stalwarts distribute in the record stores.

Anyway, Potty Mouth: Don’t be surprised to discover that bouncy/thoughtful Beach Fossils-meets-Waxahatchee-meets-Pixies steez plastered all over the internet this time next year, and maybe at Urban Outfitters. They might not be long for the underground.

Before they played, a different all-female ensemble blasted the basement, one without nearly the polish but at least twice as much gumption. That’d be Katherine, a local two-piece bass and drums deal featuring Kathryn Keister and Catherine Elicson. (Get it?)

Their specialty was harsh, propulsive, barebones rock that often came off like a promising rough draft — emphasis on “rough” because theirs is music fit for jostling. Immediacy was prized over precision, which is always the right priority where live rock music is concerned, especially live rock music in a crowded basement. That said, if this band was a little tighter and more poised, the resulting explosion could have literally brought the house down.

Katherine’s music was intensely physical, particularly Elicson’s drumming. She absolutely thrashed her kit, scrunching her face into a focused grimace as she crammed rock-star fills between the incessant battering. If there’s such a thing as “lead drums,” that’s what she played Sunday.

Keister was hardly a non-factor, but she knew how to lay down a solid foundation and get out of the way. I praised the drummer from bass-drums duo JFK Didn’t Even See It Coming for keeping it simple and letting the virtuoso bassist rip. Here, the roles were reversed, but the effect was similarly pleasing.

The duo traded screams and shouts and a few chirps over top of scraggly fuzz rock. More often than not, they opted for shrillness over sweetness, though the closing song (the one that started with the chirps) was an exception that suggests they could further explore that more melodic sound and exist in a pleasant duality. Never, ever should they scale back the aggression, though.